Lost in Manhattan

This post has been in my draft since November 2014 – I know, it’s that LATE to post something back from 2014. But just today, I looked up some of the pics, and I love how this event reminds me this feeling: 1. lost and confused. 2. warm and acknowledged. Both feelings are exactly opposites to each others, but that’s what I felt.

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Lost and Confused. Thanksgiving 2014 yang lalu saya pergi ke NYC. Tujuan utamanya hanya untuk melihat Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade yang tersohor itu. Tentu ide untuk berjejal-jejalan dengan ribuan manusia lain dan menempuh perjalanan 5 jam ke kota lain hanya untuk menonton sebuah parade tidak masuk dalam akal sehat Ara.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade – via adweek.com

Saya memutuskan untuk pergi sendiri saja (as part of my me-time) dengan menggunakan MegaBus langsung dari New Bedford – New York City. Seperti biasa, tiket sudah dipesan dari 3 bulan sebelumnya. Namun pagi hari-H Jam 4.55 AM saya terbangun dan mendapati diri saya ragu-ragu untuk berangkat (walau tas sudah dipacking rapih); as you might notice, I always have this ragu-ragu thing every single time I go by myself – it is part of being a mother I guess. You just naturally feeling guilty when you left your family alone, apalagi untuk kepentingan hura-hura semata. Sementara jam bus akan berangkat ke NYC adalah jam 5.15 AM, yang mana saya harus memutuskan dalam waktu 10 detik sangat cepat: PERGI atau TIDAK. Perjalanan dari rumah ke terminal memakan waktu 7 menit dengan anggapan: jalanan super lancar. Singkat cerita saya berangkat menggunakan taksi ke terminal bus di Fairhaven – dengan hanya ada uang cash $25 dalam saku. Si supir taksi bilang ketika baru 1/4 perjalanan ke terminal bus, bahwa dia belum punya kembalian. Artinya saya harus bayar dengan uang pas. Saat itu saya baru sadar bahwa saya gak bawa debit card, hanya credit card, agak panik juga ke NY 2 hari cuman berbekal $25. Setibanya di terminal bis, argo taksi menunjukan $12, sementara karena saya hanya punya 1 lembar $20 dan $5, maka dengan bergegas saya bilang ke si mbak supir taksi: “Just a minute, I will ask the bus driver for the changes”. Bus saya sudah HAMPIR mau berangkat, karena memang waktu menunjukan jam 5.15 AM; saya bergegas lari ke dalam bus yang sepi dan tidak ada penumpangnya – sang supir menyambut saya dengan “You’re so lucky, I just about to leave in a sec..!”. Saya utarakan maksud saya untuk menukar uang $20 untuk bayar taksi, si supir bus bilang dia tidak punya uang cash sama sekali – makin paniklah saya. “Ok, I will tell the taxi driver first, please wait for me…!”, sedikit bete dia bilang bahwa dia tidak bisa menunggu saya.“I have other passengers, I can’t be late!” ucapnya, saya memelas: “Please, wait for me, only 30 seconds!”, yang ditanggapinya dengan muka datar dan rada kesal. Saya berlari ke arah taksi dan bilang: “I will pay the rest of the fee after I came back from NY” – ucap saya bersungguh-sungguh sambil menyerahkan $5. Artinya saya berhutang $7 ke dia. Supir taksi wanita dengan wajah memelas itu pasrah, “What’s your name?” tanya saya. “Ashley” balasnya singkat, wajahnya gusar. “Listen, I promise. On Saturday, I will pay the rest, Ok? My name is Puti and you know where I live. Happy Thanksgiving..!”. Saya kembali berlari masuk ke dalam bus, duduk dan bisa bernapas lega. Saya satu-satunya penumpang dari New Bedford dan 40 menit kemudian bus tiba di Providence membawa sekian puluh penumpang lainnya untuk dijejalkan di double-decker bus tersebut. Alhamdulillah, 5 jam kemudian bus sampai selamat di Manhattan.

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Setibanya di Manhattan – saya dan ribuan turis dan newyorkers- ikut dalam padatnya kerumunan manusia-manusia lain untuk melihat parade. Saat itu sudah jam 11 AM, artinya parade sudah berlangsung dari Upper West Side Central Park menuju ke Macy’s di 6th Ave. Penjagaan polisi ketat sekali, kami tidak bisa masuk dalam kerumunan massa yang sudah lebih dahulu memadati 6th Ave. Ingin rasanya menangis, karena sudah melalui perjalanan panjang dari New Bedford -plus bawa-bawa ransel gede berisi pakaian untuk bermalam- masa ga dapet view liat paradenya?! Hingga perjuangan detik akhir, saya hanya bisa mendapatkan view seperti ini:

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Itu pun liat viewnya, sambil berdempetan dan sebagian besar orang udah bersumpah-serapah – karena saling mendorong ada yang ingin maju ke depan, ada yang udah ga kuat lagi jadi menyerah balik berjalan menjauhi keramaian, bener-bener gak kerasa “Thanksgiving”nya di antara kerumunan itu. Saya bahkan gak bisa melihat artis-artis yang (katanya) ada dadah-dadah di parade itu. Huu… Memang benar, enakan liat di TV aja yang beginian, ehehu. Harapannya liat kayak gini – dan memang harus masuk ke dalam gedung atau antre dari jam 6 pagi:

Ya sudahlah ya… Setelah parade itu saya merasa sangattttttt gamang, Kangen banget sama PapaAra, Azka dan Khalif – karena merasa tidak pamit dengan proper. Terbersit niatan (gila) untuk pulang kembali ke New Bedford dengan bus yang jam 2 PM. Tapi karena bolak-balik nyasar mencari tempat tunggu MegaBus (dodol banget orientasi arah saya) yang tidak ada haltenya itu, bus yang jam 2 tak terkejar – dan akhirnya saya memutuskan untuk menikmati apa yang bisa Manhattan tawarkan untuk saya *hadehhh secara ya, udah di NYC gitu*.

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Memandangi Christmas window display di department store besar NY adalah salah satu kegiatan favorite saya, ini yang di Lord and Taylor:

IMG_9853 IMG_9850 IMG_9846 IMG_9845 Tapi jalan-jalannya beneran random, bahkan saking gak fokusnya (karena ngerasa “homesick”), saya jadi ga mengunjungi Rockefeller Center yang terkenal dengan dekorasi cantiknya untuk menyambut Christmas. Huhu. Kira-kira beginilah penampakannya:

Dan menutup perjalanan di Manhattan hari itu dengan pergi ke Brooklyn, untuk acara Thanksgiving dinner di apartemen Manda. Naik Subway pun ada hiburannya tersendiri, memandangi artworks, orang lalu lalang, street performer, dan poster-poster di Subway:

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Warm and Acknowledged. Setibanya di Apartemen Manda sudah ada beberapa teman dari kantornya. Sembari menunggu ayam (bukan kalkun – karena Manda sebagai host ingin memasak ayam halal) matang, kami bermain beberapa boardgames dan games yang hanya melibatkan tangan- sederhana tapi serunya keterlaluan, Saya males jelasin secara detail cara mainnya, cuman ini permainan recommended banget buat menggila bersama. I had so much fun with Manda’s friends – yang tidak ada satu pun di antara mereka yang main gadget selama kami berinteraksi – satu-satunya yang foto dokumentasi pun cuman saya. Ohya, Manda ini sesama alumni ITB, tapi dia 6 tahun lebih muda, hee, dan dari jurusan design. Di US dia meneruskan masternya di RISD (semacam ITB-nya untuk design gitu, sangat prestisius). Teman-teman kantor Manda adalah para expat muda arsitek berbakat dan kece, mereka berasal dari Mexico, Lithuania, China, Korea, dan sisanya ada dua teman Manda yang orang Indonesia. Singkatnya saya sempat merasa sedikit minder, karena ketika ditanya oleh mereka, “what do you do?”, saya menjawab seadanya: “I’m a stay at home mom”. Semuanya kaget, karena tebakan mereka, saya masih berusia 23 tahun dan ga ada tampang Ibu-ibu, dengan dua anak pula. Ahaha. Walau berkeluarga dan settle belum masuk dalam cita-cita mereka saat ini, tapi dari percakapan dengan mereka, saya merasa bersyukur: telah menjadi Ibu bagi Azka dan Khalif, dan istri bagi Ara. Saya tidak merasa tertinggal dengan karir saya dan menikmati kegiatan saya sebagai Ibu saat ini. Ya, mungkin akan berbeda kalau kumpul-kumpulnya dengan Ibu-ibu lain yang sudah sama-sama berkeluarga dan sukses secara profesi dan finansial.

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Apartemen sublet Manda kece sekali – pemiliknya adalah seorang writer yang sedang berada di Dominican Republic untuk mencari inspirasi dalam menulis. Seru ya..! Apartemennya pun penuh karakter, saya suka sekali:

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Black Friday. Hari Jumat itu saya tidak punya agenda khusus apa-apa. Hanya ingin sight-seeing dan dengan mengunjungi pusat hipster di New York, yakni di Williamsburg, Brookyln. Kalau ke NY, saya tidak pernah lihat orang-orang kece Newyorkers seperti yang ditampilkan di kebanyakan media, kebanyakan mungkin hanya turis kali yaa yang saya temui. Nah, kalo di beberapa daerah di Brooklyn, memang pusatnya kaum hipster – yaaa, macam para Instagrammer itu lah, hehe. Tapi saya gak berani ambil fotonya, takutnya ada yang tak berkenan. Ini aja saya mau ambil foto si mas-mas berkacamata, rada gak enak, harus pake Manda sebagai bumper model, haha.

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Setelah makan pagi dan berkunjung keluar-masuk cuci mata liat barang-barang yang sedang sale Black Friday, toko buku, dan toko vinyl di Williamsburg dan SOHO, kami makan siang di sebuah kedai Jepang yang kecil banget di daerah Greenwich Village. I think that was the best vegetable udon I’ve ever tasted -second to the one that I tried while in Tokyo. Nah, dan di resto ini mereka hanya menerima pembayaran secara cash. Saya mengintip sisa uang di dompet: masih ada $17 – setelah sebelumnya sempat terpakai untuk beli vinyl seharga $2 dan churros mbak-mbak Hispanic di subway $1. Sementara harga udon paling murah: $11, tambah tip $2. Okelah cocok. Saya ikutan pilih yang vegetable karena rekomendasi Manda yang ternyata sangat sholehah: dia hanya makan daging halal – hebat ya? Kadang-kadang malah saya dan Ara ga terlalu memperhatikan hal-hal demikian kalau makan di restoran. Cukup: daging ayam dan sapi anggapannya: halal. Manda juga mengingatkan saya untuk sholat zuhur dan ashar di subway (iya, di tempat duduk sambil nunggu kereta datang) – lagi-lagi membuat saya terkesan dari dia, karena selama ini saya kalau sholat ketika lagi traveling, seringnya dijama aja semua dari zuhur, ashar, maghrib, isya. Suka lupa bahwa Allah memberi keringanan bagi yang sedang dalam perjalanan, untuk bisa sholat di manapun (tentunya tempat yang bersih) dengan tayamum.  Setelah pertemuan dengan Manda, saya dan Ara setiap berpergian ke kota lain, saling mengingatkan untuk sholat di mobil atau di tempat lain yang memungkinkan. Thank you Manda, for the hospitality and reminder for being a better Muslim!

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Tempat terakhir sebelum pulang adalah ke The Union Square Holiday Market, atas rekomendasinya Taza. Tidak seseru yang saya bayangkan siihh, walau tetap menyenangkan melihat produk, desain, dan jenis makanan yang dijajakan oleh small company. Yang membuat saya senang karena menemukan beberapa yang Indonesia banget: “Back from Bali” dan ada juga Nuts + Nuts – yang ternyata asli punya orang Indonesia – direct cashews from local farm in Java..! Tapi agak kemahalan buat saya, satu pouch kecil $4.5, hehe. Nanti dulu yaa belinya, foto-foto aja sebagai bagian dari promosi :)

IMG_0167IMG_0161 IMG_0160 IMG_0153 IMG_0169 IMG_0152IMG_0158 IMG_0145Setelah dari Union Sq Market ini, saya dan Manda sempat mampir belanja ke H&M dan liat-liat di J.Crew dan Antrophologie. Saya berusaha tidak terlalu heboh belanja, walau sale menggila, nyatanya saya berhasil menahan diri hanya dengan membeli baju untuk Azka dan Khalif saja yang memang lagi muraaaaah banget di H&M. Oh well, kini rasa penasaran liat Macy’s parade dan belanja di NYC sudah tidak membuat saya penasaran lagi. Di perjalanan pulang, saya cek keadaan uang cash: masih nyisa $4. Selamat deh, Alhamdulillah. Bye NYC, until we meet again.

Winter Storm Juno

This is our 5th winter, and been an exceptional one compare to the previous years. One of the odd: the first snowfall occurred on October, the day after Halloween and one time during November (still autumn). After that, probably one or two times during December – even during Christmas week, all we got in our region was only rain and now snow. The first 3 weeks in January, the snow appeared just for a moment during nighttimes and after that vanished before noontime. Too soon to begone and actually I’ve been waiting for a snowstorm. We did have several days with temperature below the normal ones, the coldest that I’ve ever experienced: -18 Celsius. At that time, the school was canceled – because they afraid, it might be a problem for parents waiting for the pupils outside.

IMG_2809 IMG_2815During pick-up time at Azka’s school, I usually chit-chat with one of the father or other moms, about how badly I want it to be snow. A heavy ones. They’re not fond of my idea, because they kinda hate when it snows a lot and not want to deal with the mess it created; I understand later on, that they have their own properties and must to take care of it by themselves. Meanwhile, I, rely everything to the maintenance guys in our housing area – not even bothered to think that snowstorm would be inconvenient for many people, including the potent to have power outages in some areas and homeless people, etc. What a selfish me.

Anyhow, here, at the 4th week of January…. With several warnings appear two days prior the storm on my Android: Blizzard Warning in Southeastern Massachusetts; A winter storm Juno. There’s Massachusetts statewide travel ban which not allow residents to use their vehicle during the peak of the storm, the only vehicles allowed are just the essentials (like police, firefighters, medicals, and other essentials state employees), schools and businesses are closed for 2 days (and we’re still waiting whether the will extend it for the next two days or not, the street still looked pretty bad with 2 feet of snow.

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As for our family, we always love this time of the year – where we’re allowed to wake up late and lazy (more screening time for the kids and parents that is) and just enjoying to bake some Blueberry Streusel Coffeecake, raspberry scones, more coffees, teas, and hot chocolates while watching the gray sky and snowfall that seems never end – I live for that moment (of course, after that there will be tons of dishes to be washed and laundries to be done!). But I just want to embrace it while I can… And the after the storm passed, is another favorite time, where I just always love the cold sensation touched my skin, the soft puffy snow as my bed, and the winter wonderland is here. IMG_2957IMG_2929

IMG_2848 IMG_2841 IMG_2881And yes, I’m being selfish again, because I didn’t do any parts of shoveling and cleared the path.

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Inside My Head

Semenjak menginjakan kaki di New Bedford, saya punya banyaaaaaaakk sekali ide yang ingin saya realiasikan. Seringnya sih ide tersebut menguap, dan hanya bertahan dalam hitungan hari saja – dan orang yang sering saya kemukakan ide-idenya siapa lagi kalau bukan Ara. Ara sendiri selalu berusaha memberikan pendapatnya sebijak mungkin terhadap gagasan saya dan saya yang selalu menggebu-gebu dalam menyampaikan gagasan-gagasan saya. Terkadang saya menerima feedbacknya dengan legowo, tapi tak bisa dipungkiri juga bahwa terkadang saya merasa seperti tidak didukung (biasanya yang bikin Ara ga mendukung saya, adalah sesuatu yang bakal ada potensi konfliknya besar dengan orang lain).

Ya, saya memang manusia dengan potensi konflik yang sangat sangat besar. Saya sadari betul itu… Dan ini bukan hal yang membuat saya bangga ya, justru seringnya jadi bikin saya refleksi terhadap sifat dan sikap saya yang kadang bikin orang-orang yang bersinggungan dengan saya menjadi tidak nyaman. Biasanya hanya ada dua kemungkinan, si orang yang sudah berkali-kali bersinggungan: akan menjadi sahabat baik saya atau.. jadi “musuh”. Gak musuh sih, cuman ya… you know, menghilang saja masing-masing dari peredaran. Dan sayangnya, yang seperti itu: “hilang dari peredaran” jumlahnya gak sedikit. Sedih juga. In my own defense, I couldn’t please anyone.. Ada yang mungkin terganggu dengan postingan saya di sosial media, tulisan saya di blog, foto-foto saya di Instagram, perkataan saya di Twitter, atau hubungan langsung dari suatu kejadian.

Balik lagi ke topik “banyak ide”, ide-ide saya seringnya tidak terealisasikan karena saya gak punya MOTOR penggerak. Saya ada ide, tapi untuk mewujudkannya saya butuh partner, yang kira-kira sevisi. Nyari partner itu ga gampang… Ditambah dengan faktor “potensi konflik” itu. Tapi Alhamdulillah, untuk beberapa project saya menemukan orang-orang yang saya nyaman (dan semoga mereka juga) untuk bekerjasama.

Dalam tiga tahun belakangan saya terlibat dalam beberapa project, walau progressnya tidak cepat, tapi setidaknya sudah dimulai dan saya menjalani ketiganya dengan bahagia. Bahagia sudah cukup, karena dari ketiga project ini sifatnya masih project sukarela: karena memang ketiganya saya jalani bukan dengan tujuan cari uang, hanya sebatas hobby, menyalurkan energi, ingin berbagi inspirasi, dan ingin berbuat sesuatu yang ada manfaatnya bagi orang lain. Saya merasa apa yang bisa saya kerjakan dengan bermodalkan laptop, saya kerjakan..! Saya selalu percaya quote ini: Bukankah sebaik-baiknya manusia, adalah yang berguna baik masyarakat sekitarnya? I don’t have money, but I have ideas and tools. I use what I have.

1. Books For Indonesia, idenya sudah muncul dari akhir tahun 2010 – dan tidak tahu harus memulai dari mana. Ternyata, sepupu dari kakak ipar saya tinggal di Chicago dan dia merintis gerakan ini bersama beberapa temannya di sekitaran Chicago, Illinois. Saya semangat sekali ngobrol dengan Mba Ira selaku President BFI dan beliau dengan senang hati menerima saya untuk menjadi hub BFI di Southcoast Massachusetts dan Rhode Island. Dalam 2 bulan saya berhasil mengumpulkan 500 buku – yang saya dapatkan dari individual di New Bedford dan sekitarnya. Tapi dari 2014 pertengahan hingga sekarang, dikarena beberapa pendirinya pada merantau ke negara lain – BFI vakum sementara (setidaknya saya belum aktif lagi mencari donatur). Namun buku-buku yang sudah didonasikan oleh perpustaakan, individu, dan organisasi sudah diterima dengan baik di perpustakaan-perpustakaan di berbagai wilayah di Indonesia.

"We’ve received books donation from Books for Indonesia. Thank you very much, we are really appreciate your effort to give good books for our students. We will distribute this books also to our students in Bangkalan, Madura. Attached is picture of our students with the books. Again, thank you very much" Regards, Femmi Tsanita Youth Program Coordinator CCE Indonesia ä Jl. RP Soeroso No. 41, Gondangdia Lama, Jakarta Pusat, INDONESIA Tel/Fax: 62 21 31907958 ä Mobile: 62 816 1623968 ä PinBB: 261728F7 Website: cce-indonesia.org
“We’ve received books donation from Books for Indonesia. Thank you very much, we are really appreciate your effort to give good books for our students.We will distribute this books also to our students in Bangkalan, Madura. cce-indonesia.org

BFI Team

2. Tweedehands. Ini penyaluran hobby thrifting saya dan adik saya: Ozu. Walau menggarap idenya bareng, yang paling banyak kerja pastinya Ozu ya… Dari styling, pricing, fotografer, editing, tumblr, packaging dan shipping. Tugas saya cuman kebagian upload foto di Instagram aja saat ini. Hiks. Cita-cita besarnya pengen punya toko yang menjual barang-barang vintage di salah satu kota di Indonesia – bisa vintage store, atau thrift store. Either way, selain toko yang profit, kami berdua juga kepengen nantinya bikin suatu badan charity yang menampung barang-barang preloved dari peroangan yang bisa kami distribusikan untuk anak-anak atau keluarga yang membutuhkan di Indonesia. Karena di Indonesia (atau di Jakarta dan Bandung deh, biar ga “Indonesia” banget) seringnya, kalau barang-barang disumbangkan langsung ke Panti Asuhan, walau di luar itu banyak anak dan keluarga yang juga membutuhkan pakaian, mainan, dan yang sifatnya kebutuhan sandang. Yah itu cita-citanya masih agak kejauhan x)

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3. Mamarantau. Kepikiran suatu Website yang memuat informasi tentang kehidupan di rantau untuk Ibu dan keluarga juga sudah dari akhir tahun 2013 – tapi setelah didorong dan disemangati oleh Deb yang ternyata memiliki visi yang kurang lebih sama, akhirnya bulan Juli 2014 kemarin kami sepakat untuk bikin mamarantau.com. Saat ini saya sedang memusatkan fokus saya ke mamarantau – makanya jarang saya sentuh blog pribadi ini, heheu. Yang membuat saya senang dari mamarantau, saya jadi banyak mengenal sosok Ibu-ibu hebat yang sedang merantau. Kebanyakan juga sambil sekolah dan bekerja – sambil urus rumahtangga. So far saya jalani dengan happy, karena ga ada beban apa pun. Ada juga sih yang bikin sedihnya, terutama kalau merasa si Ibu yang diinterview seolah tak tertarik untuk berbagi di mamarantau. Saya pahami betul itu.. Karena gak semua Ibu senang terekspos, gak semuanya juga ada waktu luang untuk nulis panjang-panjang disela waktu sibuk sekolah, mengurus keluarga, dan kesibukan lainnya. Maka dari itu, saya suka terharu sama Ibu-ibu yang bales email saya secara cepat :’) Dan hal lain yang membuat saya terharu, dua hari yang lalu saya baru saja publikasi mamarantau di Path dan Instagram saya.. Sungguh saya tidak mengira, antusiasme terhadap mamarantau ini cukup tinggi. Di Instagram saya, yah.. walau cuman di-like 50 orang siiih, cuman seneng aja dengan komen-komen yang saya terima dari beberapa teman SMA saya, yang saya idolakan :D Lalu di Path, saya berterimakasih kepada Bikka yang me-repath postingan saya dan di-repath oleh banyak teman (dan circle of friends mereka). Hatur nuhun buat teman-teman yang mendukung, mamarantau masih banyak harus berbenah – karena baru dimulai, dan semangat yang kalian berikan kepada saya, sangat berarti. Terima kasih..!

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4. PACE The Family Center. Tahun 2014 saya ditawari menjadi tutor di 2 playgroup di New Bedford. Walau saya pengen banget, tapi rasanya kalau kerja illegal ga tenang – mengurus visa F2 ke visa kerja butuh effort cukup tinggi, dan harus ada biaya sponsor dll. Saya putuskan, saya mau volunteer aja saja sebelum mikir kerja dll. Tugas saya mendampingi fasilitator pada acara playgroup Family Center setiap hari Selasa dan Rabu, serta membenahi penataan dan mengumpulkan pakaian-pakaian bagi anak-anak dan keluarga yang kurang mampu di New Bedford melalui program Clothes Clothing dari PACE Family Center. Selain itu saya juga bertindak sebagai admin sosial media untuk Family Center. FC3

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Well, ada dua project yang saya ingin sekali realisasikan. Udah sempet ketemu partnernya juga, yang mana teman baik saya semasa TK dan di Pulomas dulu. Sayangnya demi kebaikan bersama, project ini ditunda dulu – sampai waktu yang belum ditentukan. Tapi moga-moga kalau waktunya pas, saya bisa mewujudkannya, ada yang bisa menebak, apakah “milk and kisses” itu? hehe.

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The Bird, The Sky, and End of The Year

It’s hard to write something meaningful and positive when your mind is into something that is so daunting. I’ve meant to recap about this year’s highlights and plans in 2015, but my mind goes to AirAsia QZ8501 passengers and crew… (and other sad news that swirl around in the news). So I will just post some of this week’s highlights instead, something that calm me down when my brain filled with sorrow and negativity.

I hope y’all have nice New Year, always be grateful and stay with the ones that inspires you…! IMG_0419 IMG_0468 IMG_0446 IMG_0472 IMG_0470 IMG_0454 IMG_0424 IMG_0435 IMG_0439 IMG_0433 IMG_08851 IMG_0908 IMG_0935 IMG_0904IMG_0918IMG_0914IMG_0885 IMG_0909

 

What should a 4 year old know?

I rarely copy-pasted any article in my blog – all the writings and photographs are mine. But this article is too good not to be shared –  Papa Ara shared this to me 4 months ago, and I needed to be reminded from time to time about it, so I reblogged this from Magical Childhood blog:

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I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked. Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only three. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

    1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
    2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
    3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
    4. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he couldn’t care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
    5. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.

But more important, here’s what parents need to know.

    1. That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.
    2. That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
    3. That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
    4. That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.
    5. That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.

And now back to those 4 year old skills lists…..

I know it’s human nature to want to know how our children compare to others and to want to make sure we’re doing all we can for them. Here is a list of what children are typically taught or should know by the end of each year of school, starting with preschool.

Since we homeschool, I occasionally print out the lists and check to see if there’s anything glaringly absent in what my kids know. So far there hasn’t been, but I get ideas sometimes for subjects to think up games about or books to check out from the library. Whether you homeschool or not, the lists can be useful to see what kids typically learn each year and can be reassuring that they really are doing fine.

If there are areas where it seems your child is lacking, realize that it’s not an indication of failure for either you or your child. You just haven’t happened to cover that. Kids will learn whatever they’re exposed to, and the idea that they all need to know these 15 things at this precise age is rather silly. Still, if you want him to have those subjects covered then just work it into life and play with the subject and he’ll naturally pick it up. Count to 60 when you’re mixing a cake and he’ll pick up his numbers. Get fun books from the library about space or the alphabet. Experiment with everything from backyard snow to celery stalks in food coloring. It’ll all happen naturally, with much more fun and much less pressure.

My favorite advice about preschoolers is on this site thoughWhat does a 4 year old need? Much less than we realize, and much more.

The One Who Has Got Something To Give

This is the second interview that I had this year and was published last July – it came from this cool momma blog. I was delighted to be interviewed by Deb, and love how she compiled the interview and made it into a nice piece of article..! Thank you for the opportunity to be one of the “Badass Mommas” and friendship given, Deb..! Let’s make our “project” ready for 2015…! 

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The idea of being away from a career, a precious little world made of lifelong best friends, and all of the familiarity of a home country might often seem to outweigh one’s need to be with her husband abroad. As you might know, a lot of women choose to do a long-distance marriage for such reason (among many others, I don’t judge, really). However, moving abroad might still be ‘appealing’ if your husband is being assigned to work or to study in big cities like New York or London. But what if he is being allocated somewhere more remote and unpopular? Will it be a deadend?

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Not to this hijabi mother-of-two, it’s not! She bravely decided to follow her husband from Indonesia all the way to New Bedford, Massachusetts (never heard of the city before? Same here! -moz) about 4 years ago with a 4-month-old baby under her care. She is not afraid of the unknown. Even better, she subdues the uknown and make it familiar.
She has inspired me to be proactive in enjoying the city I’m in. And I hope she’d inspire you too, as you read along.

A lionhearted wife, a dedicated mother, and a charming blogger, Here is Chica.

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On being a Momma

I am the oldest of 6. My youngest sibling is 13 years younger than me. So I am used to the responsibility of being my mom’s right hand when it comes to taking care of younger kids. Even so, becoming a stay-at-home mom has never occurred to me before. In fact, up until I was in year 6 of elementary school, I didn’t know what a stay-at-home mom was! Because the mother I knew growing up was the kind of mom who was very much a career woman.

Many years later, at the start of my relationship with my husband, Ara (then-boyfriend) expressed his desire to marry me under one circumstance : I should be a full-time mom. I clearly rebelled against this! I was a student at one of Indonesia’s  top universities, dreaming of working for an oil company with a paycheck of thousands of dollars after graduation! I couldn’t end up staying at home!! Besides, I have always been active, I could never sit around at home all day! (turns out, being a SaHM never allows you to just sit around, right? hehehe). Anyway, we got engaged and then got into a 2-year long-distance relationship when my then-fiancee decided to pursue his master’s degree in Germany.

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As time passed us by, I started to realize that being a full-time mom does not mean forsaking my degrees (she got a master’s degree from University of Indonesia, and her bachelor’s was from ITB – moz).  There is a greater cause to fight for here! I am obliged to excellently play my role as a wife and as a mother, especially during these golden years of their growth as children, and our development as a family. This does not mean forgetting my long-term dreams and goals either, for Ara fully supports them. He has been my bestfriend since we were in college, by the way.

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We finally got married! Our firstborn Malik Azka Sagara Hakim (4 y.o) came when we were about to move to the U.S. Ara went first, then Azka and I flew together a few months after (yes, that long flight, just the two of us!). Afterwards, Khalif Arana Razzaq Hakim (2 y.o) came into this world, being the first American in the family.

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Raising two boys can keep you really busy. Alhamdulillah my dear husband accommodates my need of some “me time” by allowing me to have at least 1 hour away from home chores and the kids. You know, to work out, ride a bike, take photos, and to write. It helps keeping me balanced.

On Moving to the U.S.

I was so excited to move to the U.S. ! I can clearly recall that one time back in 2005 when I told my friends that I wanted to live in America with Ara and our own little family when they asked me “Where are you going to be in the next 5 years?” Alhamdulillah, by the power of dream, the universe conspired to make it happen!

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To be honest, the early days of living here were not easy at all. I was thrilled to go on an adventure in America, but then I had to adapt with my life as a new mom, which could be really stressful. Besides, the absence of relatives and family really made it harder. I was overwhelmed. Back then, we lived in an empty apartment, we couldn’t afford a furniture so we needed to borrow our landlord’s. I couldn’t even cook while eating out would be expensive. We didn’t have a car so we had to ride buses everywhere. Ara even had to walk to his campus during hailing snow in winter back then! And in summer, our non-air-conditioned apartment would get very hot. Can you imagine?

But through all of these tough times, Ara would always say to me “enjoy the process”…

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So we did, and we are stronger for it today.

On Enjoying New Bedford

It’s a good thing that I have once worked as a researcher and that I am always eager to check on things. So for example, when the management of an apartment we wanted to move into told us that we were not illegible to do so because of our citizenship, I went online and looked for legal statutes to prove them wrong. As a result, the management agreed that they were being unfair and that we could move in to that apartment! It is much cheaper and it comes with good amenities and benefits! Thank God, I did the research right?

I then looked up ways to get involved in my community and to make the most of my time in this city. I started going to public libraries and museums while volunteering here and there, like in the picture below for example, when I volunteered for the National Park.

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I signed up to various different communities and I just try to connect and make the most of everything that I have on my plate now. Volunteering is a great way for me to channel my energy and skills on a positive outlet, and in the future I really want to establish a volunteer-based organization to make changes, because I believe everyone has got something to give.

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On Going Back to Indo
I miss Indonesia, I miss my parents and I definitely miss Indonesian food. But in the last 4 years since we moved here, my family and I have not gone back home yet, the tickets are so pricy!
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My husband will be done with his PhD soon, but we might want to stay here just a little bit longer. So we’ll see. I will just go on and enjoy the ride.

Interviewed by Living Loving

I had a chance to share a bit of New Bedford in livingloving.net under “One Day In” section last March 2014. It was my very first time to be interviewed and made me feel like a “real blogger” (haha). Also, because of this article that I shared on New Bedford Guide Facebook page, some people started to “recognize” me in New Bedford. One day, 3 months after the article published, someone in downtown New Bedford called me “Chica..!! Are you Chica??”, I wasn’t sure how she knew my name “Chica” – because people either call me “Puti” or “Ceniza” in here. Then she approached me “Oh My God! I’m your fan…!! I read your blog, it is lovelyy…!”, then she gave me a hug and told me that the City should published some of my photographs for marketing purposes (I was flattered). At that time, I was feeling content that my photographs bring such a joy to some people and my writings inspired some others too. Thank you for visiting my blog and follow it all along, friends…! 

ONE DAY IN NEW BEDFORD (by Nike and Miranti  MARCH 6, 2014)

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Some people dreamt about living overseas in a big metropolitan city like Paris, New York, Tokyo, or London. But actually, small cities around the world also has a lot of interesting stories. One of them is New Bedford in America. When we first saw the photos of the city through our friend,Chica’s blog, we love the heartwarming atmosphere of the town. Want to take a closer look? Here’s the delightful story of New Bedford according to Chica.

Tell us about you and where you live

Hi! My name is Puti Ceniza, but most families and friends in Indonesia call me Chica. I’m a homemaker with two little boys that keep me busy all day long (they are 4 and 2 y.o). In my spare time, I do volunteer at local national park and communities, I also part of a non-profit organization called Books For Indonesia, and like most of you I enjoyed taking picture, watching gigs and explore interesting places.

Since September 2010, my little family has been living in the US – in the City of New Bedford, Massachusetts (it is about 55 minutes going south from Boston – to give you the idea where-the-hell-is-that :D).

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Why you moved to this city?

We moved (not permanently) from Bandung to this small historic city because my husband, Aradea Hakim, got a fellowship from School of Marine Science in UMass Dartmouth to continue his PhD. But his office is not in the main campus (which is located in Dartmouth town – just 15 minutes from New Bedford), but in New Bedford because it’s closer to the sea – given the fact that the city is US no.1 seaport.

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5 things you love about your neighborhood

Before I tell you, let me tell you something: most of my friends (mostly international students) hate New Bedford – because many of them imagined “United States” is all like: New York/ Boston/ San Francisco or other metropolitan cities. The truth is, New Bedford is far from all those glamorous life and hustle-bustle of the big city like what we usually watched in most Hollywood movies. But for me, New Bedford has been a dream. So five things that I love most are:

  1. It’s a small city with a good public transportation access.
  2. Has many public parks, playgrounds and libraries.
  3. Everything is considerably well-preserved due to historical values (NB used to be the most important whaling port in the world during 19th century) – especially the beautiful greek-revival and victorian houses from the 19th century.
  4. Relatively near to go to other major cities for weekend getaways.
  5. And the local communities are great in making events, there is always something going on in the Downtown.

When is the best time to visit New Bedford?

I would suggest April-May (spring) or September to November (fall). The soft wind breeze, the cool and just right temperature, and the fiesta of the nature perks with all the colors of the trees. We love to do leaf-hunting or just strolling around the neighborhood for afternoon walk. Summer and winter could be harsh in here, unless you like the idea of heat wave or snow storm (I’m talking about extreme weather that occasionally going on). But if you happen to be in another months than that, come to any second thursday in every month where there is AHA (Art. History. Architecture) Night! It’s a free arts and cultures event in Downtown NB.

Tell us the best place to have a breakfast, lunch and dinner

There are many hidden gems in New Bedford – even the locals might not aware of that. I’d suggest to eat in a diner at Angelo’s Orchid – the taste is not that extraordinary, but given the fact that you’re eating in a “diner” is totally giving a different sensation (oh-so-50s!). Lunch in No Problemo which is a perfect place to enjoy your burritos, tacos and quesadilla, and Dinner for fresh seafoods in Margaret’s.

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You love cooking and stuff, tell us your  favorite cake shop/bakery

If it has to be in New Bedford, I love Beira Mar Bakery. It is a Portuguese artisan bakery – if you visit there, you won’t feel like you’re in US – rather it feels like you’re in a small city in Portugal; the atmosphere is very homey with the owner are two middle aged woman who speaks portuguese all the time. If in anywhere else, I like Bova’s Bakery in Little Italy, they have the best cannolis and array of baked goods.

Is there any thrift store/second hand market there?

There are plenty of them…! My favorite for specialized vintage items is in Circa (GQ Magazine made it 1 out of 25 best vintage stores in the US). For thrift store, my favorite one is in Gifts to Give (clothes and home decor), Cottage Antiques (knicks knacks) and Artificial Marketplace (vinyls).onedayin-chica-newbedford8

Do you have any favorite shops for home decor and stuff?

Any thrift stores I mentioned earlier would do – given the facts that most of my home decor I got from there. Apart from it, Marshalls, IKEA, Details and Design, and The Green Thumb for plants.

Give us your mix tape (5 songs) when you’re walking around the neighborhood

The Fall – Rhye. Dirty Paws – Of Monsters and Men. Up up up – Givers. Us – Regina Spektor. No Fruit for today – Sore

Where’s the best place to have a picnic or an outdoor getaway?

There are many options to do that, my fav is in Fort Taber, Fort Phoenix, Hazelwood Park, East – West Beach and Buttonwood Park – they have grill, picnic table, and wide field to do anything you want. For outdoor getaway, we can visit farms (apple-picking, corn-maze, pumpkin patch) or do something sporty like kayaking or light hiking in Dartmouth.onedayin-chica-newbedford3

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Actually there’s so many interesting photographs on Chica’s blog and Instagram. We adore the breathtaking winter scenery at New Bedford. Take a look at these pictures.

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New Bedford may not be a metropolitan city with the hustle and bustle. But it surely is a beautiful city. Thanks a lot, Chica for sharing the story with us!

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Pumpkins, Pumpkins, and More Pumpkins…!

Okay, maybe I’m over excited about this year’s autumn (this could be our last year autumn in here, just let’s hope not :p), if last year I was obsessed with the array colors of autumn leaves, this year my obsession is pumpkin…! Gee, I’ve never been so excited about going to pumpkin patch over and over again;  First, we went to Keith’s Farm in Acushnet with Artworks! playgroup on last week of September (was raining when we were there, it was a nice trip though!). Then, the following week to Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off in Frerichs Farm in Wareham, the week after to a small pumpkin patch in front of a Church in Kempton St, New Bedford, and last week we went to Keith’s again with the whole gang (with Papa Ara who was smitten with the color contrast of the sky and pumpkins).

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Happy Halloween..! Enjoy the rest of the gorgeous weather..!

Idul Adha in The Beginning of Autumn

This year Idul Adha felt a lot more festive than the previous years – though in 2013 we celebrated it with Angke, Igun and Rakeem, in 2012 we had Dita stayed with us for 2 nights. This year we celebrated it in three different places. After we did our Ied Prayer at Masjid Al-Ehsan, we went to Provost of UMassD apartment – which in there they served a very delicious Bangladesh main dishes and desserts, then we headed to Wellesley a town west from Boston to Uda Lino and Uni Olla’s beautiful house, and at night we went to Shamim and Nabil’s apartment just 3 mins walk from our place. We had a great time and bunch inspirations as well from our interaction with all the people we meet and chatted. Especially the very humble Provost and successful Indonesian families that lived and worked in US for more than a decade. I appreciate their kindness and warm gestures, it feels so much different if I met people in Indonesia with the same position – not trying to judge, but in Indonesia I felt position in job so much matter that create this hierarchy and superiority when we interact with them. In here, everyone is just equal. I love it. And what made it even better is…. The leaves are changing and autumn is here…!

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